Statement on International Migrants Day
The smuggling of migrants and human trafficking are global issues affecting almost every country and every region whether as origin, transit or destination countries.
This illegal activity preys on the desire of individuals for a better life, fuels huge profits, and often endangers the life and safety of the migrant.
There are many reasons why individuals may decide to leave their country, but not all migrants have the opportunity to do so legally.
Criminal traffickers and smugglers take advantage of the weak and the vulnerable, offering them hopes for a better future, while exposing them to abuse and exploitation.
To effectively address these crimes which offer low risks, but high profits for the criminals, States need to take an integrated approach by implementing laws and policies on transnational crime, immigration and border control.
States must also cooperate with each other, while ensuring that traffickers and smugglers are prosecuted.
In following this path, we need to mainstream human rights by protecting the rights of the trafficked victims and the smuggled migrants.
Organized crime, such as migrant smuggling and human trafficking, also hinders development. At the same time, fragile states, or countries in transition, where development is weak, can provide fertile ground for these crimes.
Effective action in this crucial area requires a comprehensive approach that confronts the underlying issues of migration and development, especially those related to poverty.
On International Migrants Day, I urge all States to both ratify and implement the Trafficking in Persons Protocol and the Migrant
s Smuggling Protocol supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Crime.
To identify the challenges, and to address these vital issues, UNODC is shortly publishing a paper on Smuggling of Migrants by sea.